Ever hit the “reply” button when you meant to hit the “forward” button?
Of course you’re familiar with email drama. Perhaps you got yourself involved in one yourself, where the misinterpretation of a message, or one that got sent to the wrong person, spun off into a totally unproductive soap opera segment.
First of all remember everything you write can be used against you, even by someone you never met. Second of all, don’t take your received messages so seriously!
1. Think first. Before you initiate a thread, carefully consider what you really want to communicate, what emotion you want to share, and the personality of your intended recipient. Make sure you wouldn’t do better by calling the person, or sending a longer, more formal letter. If you’re replying, see if your reply really is necessary. Sometimes we get copied on messages that are only slightly relevant to us.
2. Edit. Never hit “send” without re-reading your message at least once. If you’re not a good speller, use spell check to give a more professional image. Even a simple message of “no” can be improved to “no, thank you anyway.”
3. Review emotional content. If you’re feeling great, no worries. But, if you’re concerned or angry about something, even if it’s totally unrelated to the message, you’ll probably send negative emotional content without intending to do so. Don’t write email when you’re upset.
4. Control time spent in checking email. Before you automatically start your day by checking email, consider if the early hour would be better spent doing something else. What are your real priorities for the day? Postpone email until later in the morning, and don’t check it every five minutes. If you’re expecting an urgent reply, call the person.
5. Interpret with care. If you find yourself offended by an email, file it to look at again at a later time. Remember everyone tends to be stressed and busy. Give the sender every benefit of the doubt. If you still feel bad, call the person and ask him or her to explain more carefully the message.